TPO… Rain!

I think that I might have screwed up.  We were shy of rain, and the city was covered with volcanic ash, so I prayed for rain.  I even went into the street and did a Native American Dance to bring on the rain and wash away the ash. I was not really sure that it would work, but it did entertain the neighbors. The applause and shouts of “Gringo Loco” encouraged me to keep dancing.

It turns out that I danced for too long, because now the rain will not stop. I just watched the news and there are many flooded areas in the city.  It is clear that I was messing with forces beyond my pay grade.  CLICK HERE to see the result.

The only Sun Dance that I know is a film festival in Utah, so I am not sure what to do now.

That’s the view from my floating chair.


TPO – Weather

Rain-Rain go away…not. Okay, I am back talking about the weather again. Normally, that would be somewhat boring, but in light of the recent focus on “climate change,” it is clearly more appropriate than in the past. It is now raining quite heavily in San José, and in the surrounding area. In light of the recent volcanic eruptions near the city, the rains are even more welcome. The volcano spews out a fine ash known in Spanish as ceniza volcánica. It is like a fine face power that covers everything. It creates problems related to breathing, especially for asthmatics. For more info CLICK HERE

Other parts of Costa Rica, as well as Panama and Nicaragua are also in need of some serious rain, so I hope that there is enough to go around. Right now it sure seems like there is. Those who have read my blogs already know that one of the four factors that are against the building of a canal in Nicaragua is the current lack of water. Lake Nicaragua, the lake that forms the basis of the proposed new canal is quite deficient in water right now. However, I hasten to add that it will indeed take more than just a higher lake level to guarantee the canal will be built, but if one wants a canal, then one must have water. CLICK HERE

I am happy that the rains have finally turned on, because they bring life, unless of course they come too quickly, and in too much quantity. Having a flood is no fun for the people who are affected. In Central America, the rainy season means that it can rain. It is sometimes confused with the term monsoon season, which we do not really have here, except in October, when it can rain really hard for many days, but during the rest of the rainy season, it usually only rains in the afternoon, or at night. That means that most mornings are sunny and bright, which allows one to do what must be done outside. In the afternoon, when it does rain, I stay inside and write blogs. If it is raining really hard, I sometimes contemplate building an ark!

In the absence of any real knowledge, my gut feeling is telling me that this year will bring sufficient rain to areas that in recent years have been a bit shy of the normal tropical rain. As for Nicaragua. If they are to have any chance of building a new canal, they need some very heavy rains this rainy season.

That’s the view from my chair…


Note: In the event you care to know about volcanoes, click here

Today’s Pitiful Offering 2-160529

TPO – The Mall

I went to the new mall today and I took some video. Well, that is until a security guard told me that I could not take video of the activities. I asked him to show me the regulation against taking photos or video, and suddenly he was lost. Since I already had what I wanted, I put my camera away. That made him feel like he was doing his job. I felt good that I was able to allow him to feel like he was actually doing his job.

The mall  looked decent when only looking at a relatively small portion at a time, but looking at the big picture, it looked as if it were designed by a committee where each member spoke a different language. Add to that the fact that it is much like most other malls in the known universe, it is a monument to what not to create. In any case, they needed a new mall in the area like your cat needs more fleas. San José is a big city that, in reality, is just a huge mall with some hotels, government offices, and restaurants sprinkled around to make it seem otherwise. It is for me, a big boring city. Of course, with its mountains, forests, and beaches, Costa Rica is really beautiful and is very different from San José, which seems as out of place here, as the new mall.

With regard to the new mall, several words come to mind. In no particular order, ill-conceived, sterile, and clearly not needed.

That’s the view from my chair.



Canal Update – Costa Rica

In a previous post (click here) I listed four factors as to why the likelihood of a canal through Nicaragua is becoming less of a possibility. However, today’s Canal Update is not even about Nicaragua.  It is about Costa Rica.  No, you haven’t been asleep.  There is no canal in Costa Rica–yet, but yesterday, May 22nd, the Interior Minister of Costa Rica announced on TV, that the Government is indeed serious about going forward with plans to build a 320 kilometer inter-ocean “dry” canal across Costa Rica. It will be a rail link connecting a port on the Pacific Coast, to a port, most likely Puerto Limon, on the Caribbean (Atlantic) coast. click here for map.

Feasibility studies are currently in progress by two separate companies.  If the studies show that it is a viable project, the dry canal project has a very good chance of soon becoming a reality.  Should that happen, it will pose an additional problem for the Nicaragua Canal, which is already behind schedule, and facing serious challenges.

The major elements of a dry canal include container loading and unloading facilities at ports located on either side of the country, and a high speed railroad right-of way between the two ports. The ability to load and unload upwards of 18,000 containers a day is a design requirement, and it is expected that trains, each carrying about 440 containers would leave for the opposite coast about every 40 minutes.  Unlike the project in Nicaragua, only a relatively few people will be required to relocate, because some of the necessary railroad right-of-way already exists, and building a railroad  is far less intrusive than creating a giant waterway. Nevertheless, the dry canal will require a wider, and more stable roadbed than currently exists in Costa Rica, as well as new heavy-duty railroad track.  Oh, and they will also need some trains.

The idea for the dry canal actually goes back many years, and people both inside and outside of the government are asking why the building of a dry canal has taken so long to approve.  However, the announcement of the proposed Nicaragua Canal, and the opening next month of the expanded Panama Canal has rekindled interest in the notion that, it just might make economic sense for Costa Rica to have a canal of its own, and two companies have submitted proposals to build it.

While it will take time and money to create the elements needed for a functioning dry canal, the cost will be far less than digging a waterway, and the time to create it will be a fraction of what it would take to create a canal of the type that now exists in Panama. Granted, Costa Rica is not known for building roads in a rapid manner, but undertaking a project like the dry canal in conjunction with private enterprise, would likely be a different story.

What remains to be seen is just how efficient the expanded Panama Canal will be. There is an expectation that, in addition to allowing larger ships to make the transit, the overall efficiency of the canal will also be increased. If that should lead to a lowering of the existing transit fees, it could impact the viability of building a canal elsewhere. The practicality of any new canal, wet or dry, is dependent on many variables, including the current slowdown in international shipping. That may only be temporary, so the need for a dry canal, especially to service smaller cargo ships, might just make sense. Time will tell, but for now, it looks as if Costa Rica is serious about accepting the challenge of building an inter-ocean, rail based, dry canal. They are however, not alone.  Even as I write this, five or six other dry canal projects are also being considered, and did you know that Panama has a dry canal as well.  My-my-my, it is indeed a very interesting situation that exists these days.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Volcano in my Backyard

Volcano Action

This morning I went outside and saw the cars covered with a fine ash that looked to me like face powder.  I live 22.3 miles from a volcano that erupted during the night.  I believe that 22 miles is far enough away to avoid being affected by the full furry of the volcano should it go crazy, but when the wind is blowing from the east, my location gets a dusting of ash known in Spanish as ceniza volcánica.  If during an eruption the wind is blowing this way, then it might dictate that I wear a dust mask to keep from ingesting the fine ash.  Just in case, I keep several on hand should it become necessary.

CLICK HERE to watch a video of what happened May 12, 2016,